National Central University, National Chiao Tung University, National Tsing Hua University and National Yang-Ming University are all outstanding educational and research institutions in Taiwan. Each of the four schools is unique, and each offers an exceptional record. In comparison with world-class schools, the four universities may seem a bit small in scale or lack certain disciplines. In the face of fierce international competition in the future, the schools recognized the need to strengthen the integration of various disciplinary areas in each institution. They also saw the advantage of establishing a university system which would combine the energy of the four universities in teaching and research, integrating their resources and playing up complementary strengths to enhance the quality of education in each of the four universities. The aim was simple: academic excellence and the creation of a true world-class university. Thus the four universities and the Ministry of Education announced an "Integrated plan to promote a research university" as the University System of Taiwan (UST) on October 8, 2003. Following rounds of applications and revisions, on January 24, 2008, the plan was finally approved by the Ministry of Education and UST was formally established.
In the eight years since then, UST has gradually achieved goal after goal in its drive to develop and integrate its complementary resources, finding that this has been extremely helpful in expanding the capacity of the four universities in teaching and research. For example, in 2002 the four universities in UST published a total of 2,855 research papers and articles, a figure which doubled to 5,724 papers and articles in 2010. National Tsing Hua University jumped from 223 in 2010 to 196 last year in the UK's QS World University Rankings, while National Yang-ming University from from 306 to 290 and National Chiao Tuong University climbed from 389 to 327 and National Central University rose from a 400-plus ranking to 398. In another survey, the 2010 ARWU World University rankings compiled by Shanghai Jiaotong University, a total of seven Taiwanese universities made their way into the top 500 – including all four of the UST schools. These results show that the Ministry of Education's efforts to promote its plans for integrating research universities (2002-2005) and to develop world-class universities and top research centers (2006-2010) have been a part of encouraging development in these four schools' academic programs. The four universities' timely decision in 2002 to integrate their resources and take advantage of complementary strength has led to remarkable growth at all four schools. The four universities will continue to work together to upgrade the quality of education and to pursue academic excellence as they seek their goal of becoming a world-class university.